(CNN) – On Monday morning, Nashville was 40 degrees colder than Albany, New York. Memphis, Tennessee, was 20 degrees colder than Anchorage, Alaska. And Atlanta was colder than Moscow.
But the U.S. South was downright balmy compared to the Great Lakes region, where temperatures hovered in the negative 20s — before wind chill, which dropped temps to the negative 50s, making it very dangerous to go outside.
The bitter cold that a “polar vortex” is pushing into much of the United States is not just another winter storm. It’s the coldest in 20 years in many areas, and breaking some records.
More than 3,500 flights nationwide were canceled by noon ET Monday, according to flightaware.com.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared a statewide disaster and activated the Illinois National Guard to help provide aid.
While the current weather patterns gave the Northeast a bit of a reprieve, it’s in for a brutal drop as the arctic air works its way east. New York, where it was about 50 degrees with wind chill Monday morning, could go as low as minus 7 on Tuesday, said CNN meteorologist Indra Petersons. The region could face a 60-degree temperature change in a single day.